Tips and Tricks: Safari

Welcome to the first installment of ‘Tips and Tricks.” These articles will aim to teach you some handy things you didn’t know about common things on your Apple stuff. Of course there is a chance that you’ll already know some of the things I’m going to run through, but hopefully there will be at least one you haven’t heard before. So, let’s start our series with Safari.

Folders in the Bookmarks Bar

While it may be simple to add single bookmarks to the Bookmarks Bar, it may not be obvious that it can handle folders of bookmarks as well. Right-clicking on the bar brings up a tiny context menu containing only one item, New Folder. Choosing this option brings up the same box you get when you add a new bookmark to the bar — with the text box for naming the folder.
Once you’ve typed in the name for your folder, what looks like a regular bookmark is added to the bar, with the addition of a downward-pointing arrow to the right. At the moment, clicking on it brings up a menu with just the word ’empty’. To add new bookmarks to the folder, all you have to do is drag existing bookmarks on top of the folder name and they’ll automatically be added to the folder. You can also add new bookmarks when you create them by choosing the folder under the dropdown menu.
Bookmark folders aren’t just handy for organizing your web addresses; they can also be used as a convenience tool. Once you have some bookmarks added to your folder, clicking on the folder name opens a menu with the bookmark names listed. At the bottom of this list is the option ‘Open in Tabs’. Clicking this automatically opens up a new tab for each of the bookmarks in the folder and navigates to them for you. This could be useful if you have a list of resources you use regularly for something you’re writing, for example. You can also access this tabs feature by simply ?-clicking on the folder name.

The Activity Window

For most, the Activity window (??A) will be useless for day to day browsing, but it can be convenient to have at times. For instance, if a page is failing to load, opening up the Activity window will show you a list of resources on the page and highlight the ones which are throwing up errors.

You can also use it for opening up parts of webpages (JavaScript, CSS, QuickTime files, etc.) in their own window. If you were a budding web developer, for example, and you wanted some example of CSS from existing websites, you can use the Activity window to open up the CSS of a page. Just open up the window, and click the fly-out triangle for the site you’re browsing. Scroll through the list until you find the .css file, then double-click to open it up in its own Safari window for inspection. This works for any file on a webpage.
Another way the window comes in handy is as a quick and dirty way to download YouTube videos. While you can get specialized applications for this, the Activity window lets you do it right from Safari. Navigate to a YouTube video page, then open the window. The file you’re looking for contains ‘videoplayback’ in the URL, and is most likely the largest file on the page. You can download the video by selecting this file and ?-double-clicking. This proceeds to download the file. It’ll come down as a .flv, but it’s fine to play in QuickTime as long as you have Perian installed. You can then use QuickTime 7 Pro or QuickTime X to export the video in a more suitable format such as MP4.

Dragging in Files

Safari, like many Mac applications, supports dragging in files from the Finder or other applications such as iPhoto. If you just drag a file into a regular browser window, however, all it will do is display the file in a Safari window. The useful part comes when a website is asking for you to upload a file. Instead of clicking ‘Choose File’, you can drag the file you want to use and drop it directly on the button. A small green plus sign will appear next to your cursor, and the file is selected, no matter how deeply nested it is on your hard drive. This is a small thing, but it can save a lot of time if you have a file open in the Finder already before you upload it to a website.

Dragging Tabs and Favicons

While we’re on the subject of drag and drop, let me explain what you can do by dragging a tab or favicon (the small graphic to the left of the URL in the address bar). If you drag a tab by its name and move it to the left or right on the tab bar, the bar is reorganized. Not very exciting. But drag the tab away from the bar, and it changes into a tiny preview of the page it’s currently showing. When you let go, the image expands into a whole new window and removes the page from the tabs of the previous one. You can also do this the opposite way; drag a tab into the tab bar of a different window and it will be added to the second window and removed from the first.
You can do all of this when dragging the favicon of a page, except for creating a new window. If you drop the favicon onto an open tab, the page is replaced with the one you dragged over. You can create a new tab with the page by dropping its favicon on the tab bar, to the right of the already open tabs.


I hope you’ve learned something from this, and if you know of something handy, post it below in the comments!
Related TechUniversity Screencasts: Safari 101 and Mac Browsers